PHIL 412 B: Ethical Theory

Meeting Time: 
TTh 2:30pm - 4:20pm
HSE E216
Joint Sections: 
B H 402 B, B H 502 A
Nancy S. Jecker

Syllabus Description:


For the complete syllabus (pdf format), including the daily schedule, click here

Nancy S. Jecker, PHD, Professor
UW School of Medicine, Dept. of Bioethics & Humanities
Office: Health Sciences Bldg. A204J

Office Hours: By appointment
Website: UW Faculty Website

GOALS: By the end of the quarter you will be able to: (1) distinguish normative and non-normative approaches to ethics; (2) identify teleological and deontological ethical theories; (3) demonstrate advanced knowledge of Kantian ethics, utilitarianism, and perfectionism; (4) demonstrate basic knowledge of metaethical theories, including relativism, subjectivism, objectivism, absolutism, nihilism, and skepticism; (5) use philosophical methods of analysis and argument; (6) demonstrate awareness of social, cultural and historical assumptions in ethical reasoning; (7) appeal to ethical theories and principles to justify alternative viewpoints; (8) serve as peer reviewers for colleagues (graduate students); (9) prepare a research paper (graduate students).

MEETINGS: In-class meetings are Tuesday &Thursday, 2:30-4:20, in HSB E216.  This class combines in-person & online learning. Refer to the daily schedule (on the complete, pdf version of the class syllabus) for more information. 

DESCRIPTION: This course introduces you to some of the most influential ethical theories to date and, with a critical eye, studies the source and ground of their influence. Readings will be from historically prominent Western philosophers, such as Bentham, Mill, Nietzsche, and Kant, as well as from contemporary scholars. Cross-cultural perspectives are incorporated throughout, with a focus on Asian and feminist perspectives.

UndergraduatesUndergraduates are required to take 2 in-class examinations, participate in 3 in-class group assignments, and complete 10 philosophical reflections.

  • In-Class Group Projects (33/34 points each, 100 total points, 25% of course grade)
  • Online Philosophical Reflections (10 points each, 100 total points, 25% of course grade)
  • Examinations (100 points each, 200 total points, 50% of course grade)

Graduate Students: Graduate students are required to complete the same assignments as undergraduate and in addition to complete a research paper. Grades for graduate students are based on:

  • In-Class Group Project: (33 or 34 points each, 100 total points, 20% of course grade)
  • Online Philosophical Reflections: (10 points each, 100 total points, 20% of course grade)
  • Examinations: (100 points each, 200 total points, 40% of course grade)
  • Graduate Student Paper (100 points total, 20% of course grade)

UW, Student Academic Responsibility Policy
BH Department, Academic Conduct Policy (includes disability accommodation)
Department, Grading Policy
Instructor, Late Assignment Policy
Instructor, Vericite Policy
Instructor, Missed Class Policy

READINGS: Required readings are available free of charge online at the Canvas Page, E-Readings.

EQUIPMENT: On exam days, a laptop is mandatory.  If you do not own a laptop, borrow one free of charge from the UW Student Technology Fee (STF) Loan Program. Information at:

Catalog Description: 
Studies the major normative ethical theories, including both teleological and deontological approaches. Emphasizes moral philosophy during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as well as contemporary commentary. Offered: jointly with B H 402.
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Last updated: 
October 17, 2018 - 9:19pm